Global Retail Study Sounds Somber Note

What do Argentina, Hong Kong, Venezuela, and the United States have in common? According to a study from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu/Stores titled “2003 Global Powers of Retailing,” all four can expect to see a “deterioration in the quality of their business operating environments” in the coming months. The fine print suggests that the differences in this decline range from a mere 0.03 points for the U.S. to an ominous 0.97 drop for Argentina.

The study provides a level of detail that makes facile summaries difficult, but suffice it to say that the overall global retail outlook remains muted, after a 2001 sales gain of merely 1.9% for the world’s 200 largest retailers. Forecasts of recovery continue to be pushed into the future, and uncertainties about war and terrorism complicate the standing of the retail sector in the United States, still home to more than half of the largest global retailers by sales volume. Retailers that manage to be global and diversified seem to have a significant advantage over their competitors, as the four largest global retailers in 2001 — Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Ahold, and Target — demonstrate.

Included in the study are a list of the top global 200 retailers, charts of economic and social indicators, and articles on the current deflationary environment. And in case you’re wondering, the answer to many questions about the future of retail is: China. For more information, visit

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